What makes a website mobile friendly?


This is the second in our series of articles on the importance of optimising your website for mobile devices. In part one, we saw that mobile web browsing is increasing, while the use of computers to access the internet is in decline. Today, we are going to examine the two main factors which make a website mobile-friendly: speed & usability.


Although fixed internet lines are getting faster and wifi hotspots are more common, mobile users still experience huge variation in their internet connection speeds as they go about their lives.

Websites which were designed to load in a couple of seconds on an 8mbps broadband connection would take a whopping 94 seconds to load for a user whose phone has dropped down to a measly 170kbps Edge connection. You don’t need this Kissmetrics article to tell you that nobody will stare at a loading page for over a minute and a half to give you business!

Just this month, Google-owned DoubleClick released a study showing that 53% of visits are abandoned if a mobile site takes more than 3 seconds to load. The same study also found that mobile visitors spend 70% more time on sites which load in under 5 seconds, which leads to 2x greater ad revenue.

Page load speed depends on many factors, including the physical server that the site is hosted on, and the number and size of resources on the page. Pingdom.com provides a fantastic tool for benchmarking page load speeds and identifying bottlenecks.


Mobile usability is not rocket science – size things appropriately so you make good use of the available screen space, while also making sure that text is readable & links are easy to tap on, without zooming and panning the view.

Since traditional computers have large screens in landscape orientation, most websites are designed to fill this space. Without optimisation, these pages force an unpleasant trade-off for mobile users: either zoom out so you can see the whole page, which makes the text too small to read, or zoom in so the text is readable, and then manually pan the view every few words.

Unoptimised website
Pick your poison: tiny text or manual pan & zoom?

In practice, making sure that everything looks and behaves right on a wide range of device sizes does require time and expertise, but the core factors to consider remain the same.

As mobile usability is such an important factor in search engine rankings, Google maintains its own information page on the subject, as well as a free mobile-friendly test tool. Additionally, their PageSpeed Insights tool is a convenient one-stop-shop which analyses both speed and usability and provides a breakdown of issues to resolve.


In this post, we have briefly touched on the two main factors which affect a website’s mobile-friendliness, and provided a few links to tools which you can use to test your own website.

Given the importance of having a mobile-friendly site, we strongly recommend taking a few minutes to do this, and getting your web developer to address any issues flagged up.

If you don’t have one, or need additional help, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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